Evan J. Peterson’s book, The PrEP Diaries: A Safe(r) Sex Memoir, explores dating, hooking up, and thriving with the advent of Truvada PrEP, a revolutionary HIV prevention tool that saves lives and keeps life worth living.
Living beyond the fear of HIV is the subject of The PrEP Diaries: A Safe(r) Sex Memoir by American writer Evan J. Peterson, who holds nothing back about life on and off the first HIV prevention pill Truvada, a medication causing controversy among the gay community and much discussion among health officials.
Used as PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, Truvada can reduce risk of HIV infection by up to 90 percent, according to the CDC. “We have this tool that can potentially eradicate HIV transmission, but only if people have access to it and know about it,” Peterson said. Known for his journalism on PrEP and other LGBTQ issues, Peterson documents his journey in this first book on the subject.
Although the memoir explores the culture of sex-shaming that prevents the pill from gaining wider acceptance within the LGBTQ community, it also looks at the promise of removing the stigma against HIV-positive people. Some healthcare officials are also concerned that it may cause individuals to stop using condoms and lead to higher rates of other sexually-transmitted diseases.
Mattilda Bernstein-Sycamore, Lambda Literary Award-winning author of The End of San Francisco, calls The PrEP Diaries “a bold coming-of-age story about creating a queer sex life that matters…Peterson helps us imagine sexual splendor as a meticulously-crafted, kind and slutty, wild and loving path toward individual and communal possibility.”
In the current uncertain healthcare climate, Peterson hopes his book will fire up the conversation around HIV prevention and treatment, which still affects over 1.2 million people in America alone.
The term PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) has become part of our dialogues with not only personal physicians but friends and lovers. The gay, bisexual, queer and transgender community is exploring Truvada, the first daily pill prescribed to HIV-negative people that prevents transmission of the virus, while the straight world catches up. Author Evan J. Peterson first wrote about his experience taking PrEP for The Stranger back in 2014. Since then he has chronicled his life in the same clever and sardonic tone; readers of The PrEP Diaries will enjoy Evan’s stories about sex, intimacy, and the wild new frontiers of queer life in an increasingly PrEP-savvy world.
Review by Tracy C Muth
I first encountered the term PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) when it was mentioned by an author I follow on Facebook about a year ago. He mentioned that he and his boyfriend were taking the medication and I wasn’t sure what it was, so I researched it a bit. Then one of the books I read featured a character who was poz (HIV Positive), while his love interest was negative. In this story, I was re-introduced to the term, when the non-poz character began to take PrEP, as an added precaution/preventative to decrease his chances of contracting HIV from his positive sexual partner. The author of this book seemed to have done her research and explained what it was used for fairly well, but when I was offered this book for review, my interest was piqued. I was interested to see, from someone who has first-hand experience with this drug, what it was all about. What does it do? How is it used? Who can take it? Well, all that, plus I really love a good memoir.
Evan J. Peterson doesn’t disappoint. This was an honest account of the fear and anxiety the author has suffered since he was a teenager concerning HIV and AIDS. By the time Evan begins to think about experimenting with sex, contracting HIV is no longer a death sentence, as it once was, but for Evan, the fear of contracting HIV from a sexual partner remains, and at times, it’s an almost crippling fear.
Evan’s memoir does a wonderful job opening the reader’s eyes to the fact that this drug is for EVERYONE, not just members of the LGBT community. Anyone who is sexually active or works in a field that puts them at a higher risk for contraction is susceptible to contracting HIV and if left untreated subsequently AIDS, something that as an avid reader of gay romance, I already knew, but many of my straight/heterosexual peers foolishly believe that this is a “Gay” person’s disease still. Unlike when this disease made its appearance in the early 1980’s, we now know this to be untrue. Although Evan himself is a gay man and the book is written from that perspective this book isn’t written just for the gay or bisexual man, this book is an entertaining and educational experience for everyone.
I’m not sure when I was first introduced to or heard about the AIDS epidemic. I was only 10 when it first started and as I now know from the documentaries I’ve watched and literature that I’ve read, it was a hush-hush subject matter as far as the media and politicians were concerned. No one I know spoke of it, and I have a very close relative that has been positive for at least the last 30 years, if not longer. I can’t even begin to imagine the fears faced by gay men being forced to quietly watch their friends, lovers and neighbors die of this horrible disease. As with the AIDS epidemic, the preventative care for the disease seems to also be a bit hush-hush. It’s been out for quite a few years, but not only do many not know of its existence, but it’s only available for legal purchase in a few countries.
But Mr. Peterson is well informed on the subject matter. He has done his research and shares his knowledge with readers in this fantastic coming of age memoir. It’s well-written, informative and educational, yet entertaining as well. Told with wit and humor, the author held me captive throughout his story. He is open, honest, funny and engaging. Evan brings us into his world and shares his fears, hopes and dreams. He leaves himself vulnerable to the reader by sharing some very personal dating and sexual experiences with us, some rather embarrassing and one that was quite scary, but doesn’t fret, none of it is too explicit.
I really enjoyed Evan’s story. It was fun and interesting to read. If you’d like some well-research information on this medicine, without all the boring statistics most articles are filled with, or if you just want an entertaining weekend read, pick up this book. You won’t regret it! Highly recommendable!
Star Rating: 5 stars
About the Author
Evan J. Peterson is a Clarion West writer, volume editor of the Lambda Literary Award finalist Ghosts in Gaslight, Monsters in Steam: Gay City 5, and contributor to Boing Boing, The Stranger, and TheBody.com. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida State University and now teaches literature and writing in Seattle.